Wednesday, November 29, 2023


RV Review: Hiatus Campers offers unique pop-top pickup topper

A while back I wrote about a custom RV build in the form of a Four Wheel Pop-Up Campers Project M and taking that to another level as a flexible-use rig. That prompted a response from RV Travel reader James G., who suggested I also look at the Hiatus Camper®. 

In some ways this is a similar idea to the Four Wheel Pop-Up Camper and is available for many different pickup models. But there are also some key differences. 

The most significant difference is that the Hiatus Camper uses a fully hard-sided pop-up shell mechanism. Also, it is available with dual swing-out rear doors. 

When the Hiatus Camper is closed, it looks very much like those commercial pickup truck shells that are used by workers. The build is not very dissimilar. This features a pop-up top but it’s quite innovative how it’s put together. It features hard-sided wall components rather than canvas folding pieces. 

Easy to pop the top up on the Hiatus

To pop the top up you just unlatch it and push it up from the inside. It’s an easy operation. The hard-sided sections make for good insulation. The pop top frames and the lower portion of the camper are constructed of aluminum tubing and aluminum sheet. The frames are welded and then powder coated. The company’s patented folding hard wall system is made up of composite sandwich panels. 

“We don’t currently use wood products to construct the campers themselves,” wrote Erin Sofinowski, co-founder of the company, in response to a question I posed. 

In many ways this is essentially just a pickup camper shell with a pop top. But, as I wrote in our exploration of an affordable RV, that’s a great place to start. For the creative, a blank canvas can produce incredible results, indeed. 

This camper shell rides on the bed rails of the donor truck. That means you could take it off when you’re not using it. 

There is also a bed platform up front over the cab of the truck. That bed platform includes what amounts to a platform extension. So you increase the space of this sleeping area from just a small space above the cab to what founders Erin Sofinowski and Tyler Thompson describe as approaching a full-sized bed. That is, if your chosen truck is something like a Tacoma. Not bad. 

Unusual flip-up side panels on the Hiatus

An unusual feature available is flip-up side panels. They give you access to the interior of the shell from the sides. 

If your truck is used professionally during the week and then recreationally on the weekends, this might be a nifty option. 

Erin Sofinowski and Tyler Thompson were offering to custom fit interiors into these trucks and had some remarkably clever folding cabinets and stands and such. However, demand for these camper shells is such that, if you order one today, you’ll be seeing it some time in 2024.

RV industry could be slowing down at some point

There is a lot of talk about the RV industry slowing down at some point. I can see factors like fuel prices directly affecting this wonderful way to see the country. But with something like this on a Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, Nissan Frontier, Chevy Colorado or GMC Canyon, there wouldn’t be nearly the fear of a filling station as with most full-sized pickups. 

Further, the Canyon and Colorado have been available with a four cylinder diesel engine which, I’m told, gets terrific mileage yet has the advantages of a torquey diesel. A pickup cap camper with a folding top like this one has doesn’t have the frontal area of many RVs. So the hit to the fuel economy wouldn’t be so bad, and this might be a good choice for that reason, as well. 

I didn’t produce a chart because the company basically builds each camper to order. At this time, there are no holding tanks available nor interiors. But, as described in the Project M camper, that means you have lots of opportunities to build out what you want, including employing portable camping gear so you still have your truck for other uses. 

Pricing for the campers starts at $15,500 for mid-sized trucks and ranges up to $18,000 for long-bed, full-sized trucks. There are a few options available that would increase the price. 

Options for the Hiatus

There are choices here including an optional battery system, propane system, lighting, high-performance vent fans, side swing-up doors, windows and more. You could push this into the price of a smaller trailer if you checked all the option boxes on the order form. 

It’s interesting to see how a couple’s shared passions are turning into a viable business, and one that I can see extending even past this RV boom. 


I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our new forums, where you can weigh in and start or join a discussion about all things RV. Here’s a link to my RV Reviews Forum.

If you’re RV shopping here are some tips on RV shopping from a former RV salesperson—me!

Tony comes to having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing here and at StressLessCamping where he also has an RV podcast with his wife, Peggy. 

These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. They are based on information from a single unit and may not reflect your actual experience. Shop your RV and dealership carefully before making a buying decision. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.

Got an RV we need to look at? Contact us today and let us know in the form below – thank you!


Tony Barthel has been a life-long RV enthusiast and travels part-time with his wife where they also produce a podcast, write about RVs and love the RV lifestyle.



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Warmonk (@guest_185719)
1 year ago

We run a 2021 4×4 diesel Colorado and added rolling trays (from Decked), an all aluminum commercial shell (Leer) with no windows – just three swing up doors – and topped that with a Leer pop-up tent. I took a hit on fuel economy when fully loaded for camping. It went from 35mpg to 33mpg. Plan now is to move the tent onto the utility trailer which carries our Jon boat (Lund) to reduce weight and drag when not camping and, also, to free the truck for use when the tent is set up.

It’s a good setup for fly fishing trips and can access the back country. Given that we are septuagenarians, we like to keep lifting, hauling, hitching, and climbing within our capabilities.

Donald N Wright (@guest_185661)
1 year ago

Sides that open are a great idea. Small trucks with small diesel good idea too.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_185506)
1 year ago

As Les mentions, this is WAY pricy for a basic ‘extra-space’ camper shell. When I look at the supplied picture of the outside, the first thing that comes to mind is “massive clutter”. I survived for years with nothing more than a Brahma camper shell. Pulled out a few things and slept in the bed. Nine days in the desert metal detecting and ghost towning. The cost was far less than this unit, even back then.

Scott R. Ellis (@guest_185474)
1 year ago

We love our rig–a Northern Lite 9-6 on a Chevy dually, pulling a side-by-side in an enclosed trailer–but with fuel costs in mind, I’ve been wondering if something like this, where one small capable truck functions as both camper and trail rig, might be a better idea.

Les (@guest_185442)
1 year ago

Maybe just me but it seems pricey for a pop up camper shell and waiting two years for it seems ridiculous.

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